The primary objective of the study, he says, was to evaluate per-acre profitability of intercropping cotton and cantaloupes. The secondary objective was to try and determine how to actually do it.

“We wanted to look at how intercropping affected weed control strategies in both crops. Also, what is the proper planting time of the cotton into the transplanted cantaloupes, and would nematode control be enhanced in cotton grown in cantaloupes because both crops have the same type of nematode pressure?

“In addition, would there be pesticide compatibility issues as it relates to utilizing labeled pesticides for each crop, and what type of harvest challenges would you experience with cantaloupes and cotton. Would you trample the cotton plants when you’re harvesting cantaloupes and would you be able to harvest cotton in raised plastic beds? What insect control issues would arise with each crop?”

Ninety-five percent of all cantaloupes produced are started in the greenhouse and then transplanted into the field, says Tankersley. The ones in the study were transplanted on April 27, 2010, on 24-inch black plastic on a 80-inch row spacing. On May 18, Phytogen 375 WideStrike Roundup Ready Flex with seed treatments was planted on 36-inch rows between cantaloupe rows. In between the dry middles were eight cantaloupe rows and 16 cotton rows.

“Keep in mind that cantaloupes initially have to take priority because when you think about cantaloupe production, to grow one acre is in excess of $4,500.”

Herbicide treatments on the cantaloupes consisted of 1 pint per acre of ethalfluralin in a row middle application at planting. For cotton, glyphosate was applied at 1 quart per acre, at the time the cantaloupe crop was terminated.

Cantaloupe harvest dates were between June 17 and July 3. Roundup was applied on July 4 to terminate the cantaloupe crop and to provide weed control for cotton.

“Then we came back with 200 pounds of ammonium nitrate and 100 pounds of K-Mag with side-dress on July 12,” says Tankersley.